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Full text of "A History of the Personal Computer"

Chapter 20 Miscellaneous Items 

20.1 ... Bits and Bytes 

Early Books 

Coirputer Lib and Dream Machines [2 04] was a book 
authored and self -published by Theodor H. Nelson in 
1974. It was part of a grass-roots, anti-establishment, 
computer-power-to-the-people movement in California in 
the early 1970' s. Other organizations related to this 
movement were the People's Computer Company and 
Community Memory. 

An Introduction to Microcoraputers [44] was 
another early influential book. It was written and self- 
published by Adam Osborne. It provided a practical 
introduction to microprocessors. 

Knowledge Navigators 

Knowledge navigators evolved from the Vannevar 
Bush future Memex machine, Douglas C. Engelbart' s 
augmentation of man's intellect concepts, Alan Kay's 
Dynabook concept and Theodor Nelson's hypertext ideas. 

Theodor H. Nelson described a "unified system for 
complex data management and display" called Xanadu in 
his 1974 book Coirputer Lib and Dream Machines . Nelson 
also proposed a hypertext text manipulation system. 

In 1987, John Sculley proposed "a wonderful 
fantasy machine called the Knowledge Navigator ..." in 
his book Odyssey [73] . Sculley described it as a tool to 
"drive through libraries, museums, databases, or 
institutional archives." This would enable an individual 
to convert "vast guantities of information into 
personalized and understandable knowledge." 

Another term used by Bill Gates in his book [89] 
The Road Ahead is "spatial navigation." Gates used the 
term to describe the process of navigating on the 
information highway. 



20/1 



20/2 PartV Bits and Bytes 

CD-ROM and Multimedia applications 

Multimedia is a technology that can integrate 
text, graphics and sound in a single document. The use 
of multimedia in personal computers received significant 
impetus from the development of CD-ROM technology in the 
mid 1980's (see Section 20.3). 

Two of the earliest companies to develop CD-ROM 
applications were Cytation and the Activenture 
Corporation. The early developments were text only. Gary 
Kildall of Digital Research, also founded Activenture 
Corporation in 198 4 and renamed the company KnowledgeSet 
Corporation in 1985. Activenture developed a CD-ROM disk 
based on the Academic American Encyclopedia that was 
offered by Grolier in 1985. Tom Lopez founded the 
Cytation company in late 1984 and developed a CD-ROM 
disk called CD-Write that incorporated reference texts. 
The Cytation company was purchased by Microsoft 
Corporation in January 198 6. These early developments 
evolved to include multimedia products by companies such 
as Microsoft (see Sections 12.6 and 15.1) . 

Other Items 

Stephen Wozniak created the mythical Zaltair 
microcomputer for the First West Coast Computer Faire in 
April 1977. Wozniak did it as a prank against the 
established MITS Altair computer. He printed twenty 
thousand brochures describing an "incredible dream 
machine" and attributed the computer to Ed Roberts, 
President of MITS, Inc. It also caused concern for Steve 
Jobs of Apple Computer who was not aware of the prank. 



20.2 ... Reference Sources 



Bibliographies 

An extensive bibliography of microprocessor 
literature is contained in the "Architecture of 
Microprocessors" by Robert C. Stanley, in the 
Encyclopedia of Mlcroconputers - Volume 1, pages 2 69 to 
281 [236] . 

A bibliography of various output devices is 
contained in "Computer Output Devices" by David Bawden, 



Miscellaneous Items 20/3 

in the Encyclopedia of Mlcrocoraputers - Volume 3, pages 
360 to 362 [236] . 

History 

An Encyclopedia of Computer History is a disk 
stored hyperstack history for use on MS-DOS or Microsoft 
Windows, that has been developed by Mark Greenia. It is 
available from Lexikon Services, 3241 Boulder Creek Way, 
Antelope, California, CA 95842. 

20.3 ... Standards and Specifications 

Bus Architecture Standards 

Reference Section 17.8 

Commun ications 

The ITU (International Telecommunications Union) 
is an international organization that establishes 
standards for communication devices, such as modems. The 
V.32 standard is for communication at 9,600 bps . The 
V.32 bis is an expanded standard for communication at 

14.4 Kbps . The V.34 is the latest standard for 
communication at 28.8 Kbps without compression and up to 
115.2 Kbps with compression. K56flex is a 56 Kbps 
technology developed by Lucent Technologies and Rockwell 
International. X2 is a technology developed by the U.S. 
Robotics Corporation and operates at 57 Kbps. 

The HTML (HyperText Markup Language) 
specification was developed by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN 
(CERN is the European Particle Physics Laboratory) in 
1991. It was written as part of the World Wide Web (WWW) 
to facilitate communication among high-energy 
physicists. The specification was refined in 1993/94 by 
Dan Connelly who wrote the Standard Generalized Markup 
Language (SGML) and Document Type Definition (DTD) 
specifications for HTML. 



20/4 PartV Bits and Bytes 

Compact Disk 

standard specifications were created by Sony 
Corporation of Japan and N. V. Philips of the 
Netherlands following compact disk development in 1976. 
In 1982 a Red Book specification for CD audio and in 
1983 a Yellow Book specification for CD-ROM were 
released. This was followed by a Green Book for CD-I 
(Compact Disk - Interactive) specifications detailing 
requirements for interleaving of audio and video data. 
An Orange Book has also been issued for specifications 
on CD-R (Compact Disk - Recordable) drives. 

In November 1985 a group of companies met to 
consider a standard format for organizing data files on 
CD-ROM. This standard became known as the High Sierra 
Proposal and was approved as ISO (International Standard 
Organization) standard 9660. 

CD-ROM XA was an audio and graphics standard 
developed by Sony and Philips in late 1988. 

Graphics 

IGES (Initial Graphics Exchange Standard) is a 
standard for defining the format of geometry for CAD 
(Computer Assisted Drafting) data. It enables the 
communication of CAD data files between different 
computer platforms. 

Hardware 

Apple Computer, IBM and Motorola announced in 
November 1994 that they would develop a common hardware 
specification for PowerPC based computers. 

Memory 

EMS (Expanded Memory Specification) was developed 
by Intel Corporation. It was first called Above Board 
then the specification became known as LIM (Lotus, Intel 
and Microsoft) due to an agreement between those 
companies in June 1985. This specification was developed 
to overcome the PC memory limitation of 640K bytes. 

XMS (extended Memory Specification) was the 
result of a collaborative effort between AST Research, 
Intel, Lotus and Microsoft and was introduced in August 
198 8. XMS is a more sophisticated system than EMS and 



Miscellaneous Items 20/5 

utilizes a extended Memory Manager (XMM) to control the 
transfer of data in memory above one megabyte. 

Video Standards 

MDA (Monochrome Display Adapter) was introduced 
in August 1981 for the IBM PC computer. It had a maximum 
resolution of 720 by 350 pixels with 1 color. 

CGA (Color Graphics Adapter) was introduced by 
IBM in August 1981 for the IBM PC computer. It had a 
maximum resolution of 320 by 200 pixels with 4 colors. 

MGA (Hercules Monochrome Graphics Adapter) was 
introduced in 1982 and had a maximum resolution of 720 
by 350 pixels with 1 color. 

EGA (Enhanced Graphics Adapter) was introduced by 
IBM in late 1984 for the PC AT computer. It had a 
maximum resolution of 640 by 350 pixels with 16 colors. 

PGA (Professional Graphics Array) was introduced 
by IBM in 198 4 and had a maximum resolution of 640 by 
480 pixels with 256 colors. 

VGA (Video Graphics Array) was introduced by IBM 
in April 1987 for the PS/2 series of computers. It has a 
maximum resolution of 640 by 480 pixels with 16 colors. 

MCGA (Multi-Color Graphics Array) was introduced 
by IBM in 198 7 and had a maximum resolution of 640 by 
480 pixels with 2 colors. 

8514/A was an IBM standard which was introduced 
in 1987 and had a maximum resolution of 1,024 by 768 
pixels with 256 colors. 

Super VGA was introduced in 198 9 and has a 
maximum resolution of 800 by 600 pixels with 16 colors. 

XGA (Extended Graphics Array) was introduced by 
IBM in 1990 and has a maximum resolution of 1,024 by 768 
pixels with 256 colors. 



20/6 PartV Bits and Bytes 

20.4 ... Terminology: Clarification and Origins 

Bit 

The first documented use of the term "Bit" was in 
an internal memo by John W. Tuckey at the AT&T Bell 
Laboratories in January 1947. It was used in a table 
defining terms to describe an individual character in 
the binary system. 

The first use of the term bit in a publication 
was by Claude E. Shannon in the Bell System Technical 
Journal, July 1948 issue. Shannon used the term bit to 
describe a binary digit in a measuring system related to 
a mathematical theory of communication. Shannon stated 
that it was "a word suggested by J. W. Tuckey". 

Bug 

The first use of the term "Bug" in computer 
technology is attributed to Grace Murray Hopper during 
the summer of 1945. During the development of the 
Harvard Mark II computer an operational failure was 
caused by a moth getting in one of the computer relays . 
Subsequently when determining an operational problem it 
would on occasion be described as "debugging the 
computer" . 

There has been some question as to the origin of 
the problem on the Mark II computer in 1945. Also Fred 
R. Shapiro has shown in a Commentary of the April 1994 
issue of BYTE magazine that the terms "bug" and 
"debugging" had usage prior to 1945. 

Byte 

The first use of the term "Byte" was on the IBM 
Stretch computer development in an internal memo written 
in June of 1956. Initially it referred to any number of 
parallel bits from one to six. Shortly after August 1956 
the Stretch computer design was changed to incorporate 
8-bit bytes . 

The first published reference using the term byte 
was in the IRE Transactions on Electronic Coirputers , 
June 1959 issue. It was stated by W. Buchholz that "The 



Miscellaneous Items 20/7 

term is coined from bite, but respelled to avoid 
accidental mutation to bit" . 

Hypertext 

Theodore H. Nelson is attributed as being the 
originator of the term hypertext. Nelson described it as 
"non-seguential writing -- text that branches and allows 
choices to the reader, " non-seguential information 
retrieval and perusal. It is related to his Xanadu text 
manipulation system. 

Microcomputer 

Gilbert Hyatt stated in an article "Micro, Micro: 
Who made the Micro ?" [328] that "I trademarked the name 
microcomputer" in 1968. 

Microprocessor 

In an article entitled "A History of 
Microprocessor Development at Intel" [342], Robert N. 
Noyce and Marcian E. Hoff stated that "The term 
"Microprocessor," first came into use at Intel in 1972." 
Prior to the development of LSI computer chips the term 
"microprocessor" referred to a processor of a 
microprogrammed computer. 

Minicomputer 

The origin of the term minicomputer is attributed 
to John Leng of Digital Eguipment Corporation (DEC) . 
Leng was responsible for establishing a DEC presence in 
the United Kingdom in the mid 1960's. In reporting sales 
activity he stated that "Here is the latest minicomputer 
activity in the land of miniskirts as I drive around in 
my Mini Minor." The term then became used at DEC and 
throughout the industry. 

Personal Computer 

Competing claims have been made in two 
periodicals. An IEEE Computer magazine article states 
that "Kay and others . . . coined the term "personal 
computer" at Xerox PARC in 1973." BYTE magazine claims 
to have "coined the term, in our May 1976 issue." 



20/8 PartV Bits and Bytes 

Portable Computer 

The term portable computer requires clarification 
because of the way it has evolved into different forms 
or categories over the years. Generally it is a computer 
that can be carried by an individual from place to 
place. Initially it could only be operated from an AC 
power source, today it is battery operated. The 
following are the different designations for the various 
types of portable computers : 

The transportable computer, also known as a 
luggable , is the earliest form of a portable computer. 
It weighed fifteen pounds or more and generally ran off 
an AC power source. The IBM 5100, announced in 1975, is 
the first commercially produced portable computer 
(weighed 50 pounds) . The Osborne and Compaq portable 
computers released in 1981 and 1982 are other examples 
of this type. 

The laptop computer weighing around seven to 
fourteen pounds, that could be placed on a persons lap 
was the next stage in portable computing. It could be 
operated from a battery or an AC power source. It is 
also a generic name used by the press for today' s 
lighter notebook computers. The GRiD Compass that was 
introduced in 1982 is an example of the laptop type of 
portable 

The notebook computer is the current popular 
portable computer and typically weighs between five to 
eight pounds. The physical size is similar to a paper 
notebook, with approximate dimensions of nine by twelve 
by two inches. Of increasing popularity are the "light 
and thin" versions with a weight of less than five 
pounds and a thickness of less than 1.5 inches. The NEC 
UltraLite introduced in 1989 is an early example of this 
type of portable. 

Other variations of even lighter portables are 
known as the Ultraportable with a standard keyboard, and 
the Subnotebook weighing four pounds or less with a 
smaller keyboard and screen. 

The tablet is a portable type of computer that 
does not have a keyboard and uses a pen or stylus for 
input. The GRiDPad portable announced in 198 9 is an 
early example of this type. 



Miscellaneous Items 20/9 



Silicon Valley 

The term "Silicon Valley" has been attributed to 
Don Hoeffler, who was a journalist for Electronic News. 
Hoeffler used the term to refer to the region of Santa 
Clara Valley, south of Stanford University in a series 
of articles in January 1971. 

Vaporware 

The term "Vaporware" came into vogue during 
1983/84 to describe software that was announced, highly 
publicized, long awaited but still not available. Some 
of this may have been attributed to the Microsoft 
announcement, prolonged development and delayed release 
of Windows software. The term was first coined by the 
Inf eWorld publication. 

Winchester (hard drive) 

The term "Winchester" was an early internal code 
name for a sealed hard disk developed by IBM between 
1969 and 1973. It was derived from a disk storage unit 
development that had two spindles, each with a disk 
capacity of 30 megabytes. The unit was initially called 
"30 - 30" and because of the similar designation to a 
popular rifle from the Winchester Company it became 
known as the Winchester hard drive. 

fVintel 

A long-standing relationship between Microsoft 
and Intel resulted in the term "Wintel"." It refers to 
Microsoft Widows running on an Intel microprocessor. 



20/10 PartV Bits and Bytes 



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